We know that local councils are increasing providing the safety net that our residents rely on. We also know that worse is still to come with energy bills expected to rise further.
Over the last ten months, councils in England have been using the Household Support Fund to help families with the essentials such as energy, food and housing. Though the extension of it to March 2023 is welcome, we know that more is needed as demand rises, and that local councils need the flexibility to use it to fit their local need. An increase in the Household Support Fund would also create extra funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through the Barnett Formula too.
We are therefore asking all Labour & Co-operative and Labour Councillors to co-sign this letter alongside Cllr Shaun Davies, Leader of LGA Labour and Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, calling on the Government to increase the Household Support Fund and remove spending criteria that is restricting councils in England.
Once sufficient Councillor signatures have been collected, we will publish the Councillor signatories and invite backing from members of the public, before delivering the letter and signatories to the new Prime Minster on his/her first day in office.
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
We’ve already seen a 54% rise in the energy cap, and the further rises predicted from October are substantial. The extra money households need to pay their bills just aren’t there, as inflation soars, and wages fail to cover the costs.
For those households most in need, the Government has announced a much-needed extension of the Household Support Fund. This is a local safety net that provides funds to cover the essentials such as food, water and energy bills. It is the last resort for many who are already struggling to make ends meet, and recent data on use of the funds between October 2021 and 31 March 2022 shows that 70% of local authorities spent more than three quarters of their allocation on families with children.
The fund has allowed local flexibility, but despite this need to help families with children, the government introduced new restrictions on how the fund could be spent from April this year. The new guidelines mean a third must be spent on families with children, and a further third on pensioners, which may not be reflective of local demographics or need.
The £500 million of funding for six months has also been the same since 2021. The recent announcement that the Household Support Fund will be extended to March 2023 with another £500 million failed to recognise that costs are rising rapidly and more families will need support this winter. Only by increasing the allocations and removing restrictions will areas truly be able to respond to local needs this winter.
We can see the crisis heading towards our communities and need the flexibility and funding to tackle it. Therefore, as local Councillors we are calling on the Government to at least double the funding available over the winter from £500m to £1 billion and to remove spending criteria in England so that Councils can allocate the money based on who needs it most in their local community, not arbitrary Government targets.
Cllr Shaun Davies
Leader of LGA Labour and Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council
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